Elizabeth S. Spelke

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Does the human capacity for mathematical intuition depend on linguistic competence or on visuo-spatial representations? A series of behavioral and brain-imaging experiments provides evidence for both sources. Exact arithmetic is acquired in a language-specific format, transfers poorly to a different language or to novel facts, and recruits networks involved(More)
Six-month-old infants discriminate between large sets of objects on the basis of numerosity when other extraneous variables are controlled, provided that the sets to be discriminated differ by a large ratio (8 vs. 16 but not 8 vs. 12). The capacities to represent approximate numerosity found in adult animals and humans evidently develop in human infants(More)
Disoriented rats and non-human primates reorient themselves using geometrical features of the environment. In rats tested in environments with distinctive geometry, this ability is impervious to non-geometric information (such as colours and odours) marking important locations and used in other spatial tasks. Here we show that adults use both geometric and(More)
http://tics.trends.com 1364-6613/02/$ – see front matter © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. PII: S1364-6613(02)01961-7 Since the work of Tolman [1], many psychologists have argued that mammalian navigation depends on internal representations that are enduring, geocentric, and comprehensive: ‘cognitive maps’of the environment. Suggestive(More)
Seven experiments tested whether human navigation depends on enduring representations, or on momentary egocentric representations that are updated as one moves. Human subjects pointed to unseen targets, either while remaining oriented or after they had been disoriented by self-rotation. Disorientation reduced not only the absolute accuracy of pointing to(More)
Four experiments investigated infants' sensitivity to large, approximate numerosities in auditory sequences. Prior studies provided evidence that 6-month-old infants discriminate large numerosities that differ by a ratio of 2.0, but not 1.5, when presented with arrays of visual forms in which many continuous variables are controlled. The present studies(More)
Experiments with young infants provide evidence for early-developing capacities to represent physical objects and to reason about object motion. Early physical reasoning accords with 2 constraints at the center of mature physical conceptions: continuity and solidity. It fails to accord with 2 constraints that may be peripheral to mature conceptions: gravity(More)
Four-month-old infants sometimes can perceive the unity of a partly hidden object. In each of a series of experiments, infants were habituated to one object whose top and bottom were visible but whose center was occluded by a nearer object. They were then tested with a fully visible continuous object and with two fully visible object pieces with a gap where(More)
Under many circumstances, children and adult rats reorient themselves through a process which operates only on information about the shape of the environment (e.g., Cheng, 1986; Hermer & Spelke, 1996). In contrast, human adults relocate themselves more flexibly, by conjoining geometric and nongeometric information to specify their position (Hermer & Spelke,(More)